DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE FIRST TEXAN (director: Byran Haskin; screenwriter: story by Daniel B. Ullman/Daniel B. Ullman; cinematographer: Wilfrid Cline; editor:  George White; music:  Roy Webb; cast: Joel McCrea (Sam Houston), Felicia Farr (Katherine Delaney), Wallace Ford (Henry Delaney), Jeff Morrow (Jim Bowie), Abraham Sofaer (Judge, Don Carlos), Jody McCrea (Baker), Maurice Jara (Pablo Dominguez), James Griffith (Davy Crockett),  Rodolfo Hoyos (Col. Cos), David Silva (Gen. Santa Ana), Frank Puglia (Pepe), Carl Benton Reid (Andrew Jackson), Roy Roberts (Sam Sherman), Lane Chandler (Jim Fannin), William Hopper (William B. Travis), Dayton Lummis (Stephen Austin), Salvador Báguez (Don Juan Veramendi), (Col. Hockley); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Walter Mirisch; Allied Artists; 1956)

"Agreeable, decent and sincere but flat and too respectful biopic of Sam Houston."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Byran Haskin ("Tarzan's Peril"/"The War of the Worlds"/"Treasure Island") directs this agreeable, decent and sincere but flat and too respectful biopic of Sam Houston. It's based on a story by Daniel B. Ullman, who also handles the script.

The soon to be divorced ex-Tennessee governor Sam Houston (Joel McCrea), claiming he's through with politics after a short term in office in 1828, crosses the Red River into Texas in December 1832 and vows to start a new life as a lawyer. In San Antonio, Sam stops at the local inn, where the Free Texas Movement is meeting. The group is led by Jim Bowie (Jeff Morrow) and, fellow independence seekers wanting to free Texas from Mexican rule, Pablo Dominguez (Maurice Jara), William B. Travis (William Hopper), Jim Fannin (Lane Chandler), Stephen Austin (Dayton Lummis) and Jim's father-in-law, Don Juan Veramendi (Salvador Báguez). When the radicals are arrested by the Mexican government's Col. Cos (Rodolfo Hoyos) for plotting an insurrection, Houston successfully defends them in court and wins the case over a technicality of jurisdiction when under martial law. 

Sam rents office space for his law practice that's owned by furniture shop owner Henry Delaney (Wallace Ford) and falls in love with his lovely niece Katherine (Felicia Farr), hiring her as his secretary. The reluctant to get involved in politics Sam gets involved in the fight for Texas independence when urged to by President Andrew Jackson (Carl Benton Reid). When Gen. Santa Ana (David Silva) becomes livid that his brother-in-law, Col. Cos, was humiliated by the freeing of those agitators arrested he sends an army into Texas. After the Alamo massacre, taking place off-screen, Sam, now a general, captures Santa Ana and Texas becomes free and Sam Houston becomes its first president.

REVIEWED ON 10/13/2013       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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